Supported By New Clinical Research
Goal: Get Lean
Spot reduction is the idea that you can lose fat from certain areas of your body by targeting those areas with specific exercise. Case in point, the legions of infomercial-marketed abs training products that would have you believe a six-pack can be had by simply crunching in a lounge chair or putting yourself into some ridiculous and unseemly pose on some high-tech, swiveling apparatus.
By those standards, spot reduction is every bit the myth you have come to know and accept. The only way to really reveal that kind of detail is through hard training, regular cardio and sound nutrition and supplementation.
However, a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Physiology showed that subjects were actually able to mobilize more fat cells in trained muscle by following high-rep, bodypart-specific training with cardio. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) had male subjects perform single-leg extensions with light weight for 30 minutes straight. They found that the working leg experienced a significant increase in blood flow to and lipolysis (release of fat) from the subcutaneous fat cells. This means that the fat cells surrounding the trained muscle released more fat into the blood - and therefore into the working muscle - to be used as fuel.
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Researchers went on to suggest that by following bodypart-specific training, the released fat is more likely to be shuttled away into other areas of the body for use, rather than redeposited at the point of release. Bottom line? You can burn fat preferentially in the muscles you train.
Naturally, more research is required in order to usurp decades of strongly-held beliefs about spot reduction. But if you're interested in seeing how this theory holds up with your physique, why not start with your abs?
Choose a single abdominal exercise for each region (upper, lower, obliques) and perform continuous reps to failure, moving through the exercises in repeat circuit fashion with little to no rest, for a total of 10 minutes. Immediately following this workout, perform 30 minutes of low-to-moderate intensity, steady-state cardio. The fat mobilized from your abs, researchers say, will then be put to use for the cardio session.
Side crunch - left
Side crunch - right
Perform each exercise to failure and move quickly to the next. Perform these in circuit fashion for 10 minutes straight, then follow with 30 minutes (or more) of low-to-moderate intensity, steady-state cardio.